I knew Denver’s LEGO KidsFest would be a hit with my 10-year-old LEGO-fanatic son. After all, he’s a kid who’s been building with the small bricks since age 3, and has since graduated to creating amazing projects with Power Functions and LEGO Mindstorms NXT software. The LEGO KidsFest expo in Denver featured 3 acres filled with all sorts of LEGO goodness in the downtown Colorado Convention Center this weekend. In my son’s words: “This is a festival just for me!”
In fact, he attended two sessions of LEGO KidsFest that spanned the long weekend: one on Saturday afternoon with his three like-minded young cousins, and one on Sunday morning with just me. I liked that he had already been to the expo by the time we had our excursion together, so he could steer me past the DUPLO area (for young children) and the LEGO Friends section (girly) and other exhibits that he wasn’t really interested in. We avoided the chaos of the Big Brick Pile, and since he had already attended the fabulous Master Builder Academy the day prior, we bypassed that area, too.
My son did want me to be sure to see all of the amazing life-sized creations — Harry Potter, The Incredible Hulk, Indiana Jones to name just a few — in the LEGO Model Museum (we snapped a ton of photos here). We admired the amazing designs that expo participants built to display in LEGO Creation Nation (creations were placed on a giant map of the United States to make a cool 3-D piece of art). My son also built a basic car to race down the LEGO Race Ramp; he competed against other kids with some Power Function LEGOs at one of the exhibitor’s stations; the two of us battled it out with our spinning tops at the Ninjago area.
Frankly, I’m exhausted, just reliving our 3 hours at LEGO KidsFest!
Indeed, it’s a bit overwhelming — the sheer number of people (and staff) at the event, not to mention the myriad ways to spend your time on the massive expo floor.
Still, I highly recommend that if you have a LEGO fanatic in your house, make the effort to go to one of the upcoming LEGO KidsFests this year, especially if you live in or near Milwaukee, Austin, Detroit or Pittsburgh. If you decide to attend, here are a few tips:
- Buy your tickets early. These events are not ones where you can count on going the day of to purchase tickets at the window. In fact, by Friday night, all of the remaining sessions (two on Saturday and two on Sunday) in Denver had sold out.
- Every expo has a “Lost Parents” tent; make sure your children know where it is if you get separated. I can’t tell you how often I heard over the intercom Saturday, “June Smith, please come to the Lost Parents Meeting Spot near the main entrance.” It is not difficult to lose a child in the masses. To that end, make sure your child knows your first and last name!
- Let your children direct the fun. My son wanted to stand in line three times to play with the Ninjago spinning creations. Did I really need to compete against him for Spinjitzu victory three times? Of course not — but this was his day!
- Decide beforehand whether you’re buying LEGOs. If your children are young enough, they may not realize that there is a big LEGO retail store in the middle of the expo floor. I was happy to allow my 10-year-old to browse through the shelves to spend some of his birthday money. (If you do decide to purchase your child a toy, I’d put a cap on it — i.e. “I’d be happy to buy you a LEGO souvenir for under $25″ to avoid meltdowns or confrontation — perhaps impossible with a 3-year-old…)
- Eat before you go to LEGO KidsFest. Conference center concessions are notoriously overpriced, so I’d eat a heavy breakfast before a morning session or a late lunch before the afternoon sessionto avoid paying big $$$ for hot dogs, pizza and other fast food at food booths.
My son is already asking if we can go back to LEGO KidsFest next year — here’s hoping it returns to the Denver Convention Center. If not, I see a road trip in our future!